Band Aid

Band Aid Trust archive donated to the National Library of Ireland

20 December 2017
3 min read

The National Library of Ireland is set to archive and digitise hundreds of documents from Bob Geldof’s Band Aid Trust.

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) is to bring the Band Aid archive to a worldwide audience with plans to digitise a vast collection of letters, photographs and charity records from the iconic 1984 fundraiser. Band Aid founder, Bob Geldof, and Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan TD officially announced the donation of the archive at the library today (20.12.17). 

A worldwide 1980s phenomenon, Band Aid was a landmark first in combining music and philanthropy in a bid to raise relief funds for the victims of Ethiopia’s devastating famine. The Band Aid supergroup, formed by Geldof, saw more than 40 of the 1980s’ top musical artists, including U2, Ultravox, Bananarama, George Michael, Boy George, Spandau Ballet, Duran Duran and Geldof’s own band, The Boomtown Rats, join forces for a charity single. Band Aid’s ‘Do They Know It’s Christmas?’ has become one of the most popular Christmas songs ever released and has been generating royalties for the Band Aid Trust every Christmas since 1984. The subsequent UK and US Live Aid concerts on 13th July 1985 were among the defining events of the decade, with their live broadcasts also an unprecedented and unforgettable television event.

Speaking at the announcement today, Bob Geldof said: “By donating our story to the National Library of Ireland we enable other generations to study and hopefully be inspired for the future. Despite approaches and negotiations with other national institutions the Trustees finally settled upon Ireland as the archive’s natural home because of the Library’s understanding and commitment to the archive, the extraordinary commitment of the Irish people to the entire Band Aid undertaking and their magnificent and unprecedented fundraising response to the records and concerts and finally their exceptional NGOs and government’s commitments to the ideas and ideals of Band Aid itself. This then is our thanks and gratitude to Ireland and the Irish. We want you to use this gift for the benefit of those in whose name we too will continue to work.”

    "This then is our thanks and gratitude to Ireland and the Irish. We want you to use this gift for the benefit of those in whose name we too will continue to work." Bob Geldof

    Following the closure of the Band Aid Trust’s offices in 1991, all its paperwork and files were kept in a 100-square foot storage unit in London. This collection will now be transferred to the NLI, where it will be catalogued, preserved, selectively digitised and exhibited. The archive includes:

    • Hundreds of letters from private individuals – including many children and teenagers – mostly handwritten and on a range of personal writing paper.
    • Letters, often witty and revealing, from well-known public figures.
    • Publicity materials, including press cuttings and photographs.
    • Donations of objects, including artwork, poetry and musical recordings.
    • Reports of projects in Africa, funded by the Trust since 1985.
    • Trust correspondence – between Trust members and with third parties, including donors, governments, shipping companies, other charities, broadcasters, etc.

    Director of the NLI, Dr Sandra Collins commented: "We are excited to have the opportunity to preserve and make available this treasure trove of contemporary social memory. The abundance of correspondence received from people of all ages and walks of life illustrates the remarkable response by the public to the Band Aid appeal. I’m sure the archive will be of great interest nationally and internationally, and this major project will culminate in an exhibition of these evocative materials in the National Library."

    Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan said: "I’m delighted that the new cultural Digitisation Scheme and the Creative Ireland programme can support the delivery, cataloguing and digitisation of this unique archive. It is a remarkable record of how the charity helped to achieve change in Africa, and to attitudes in the rest of the world."

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